Ft. McMurray is burning.

Photo Source:  Calgary Herald, May 4, 2016
Photo Source: Calgary Herald, May 4, 2016

 I have no words today.

No thoughts of what to write, to say.

My heart is heavy. A fire rages out of control and like the thousands fleeing, I am helpless before its onslaught.

I am angry. Angry at the weather that fills the sky with endless blue and hot, dry air. I am angry at no rain on the forecast to squelch the fires burning, just more hot air and even higher winds today. Angry at the fire that feeds itself on its own combustion. Feeds itself on its own energy consuming everything in its path.

People’s homes are lost. Their lives strewn into upheaval. The memories and things they cherished gone up in smoke.

And I can do little to ease the pain, the fear, the sorrow of my neighbours.

Fort McMurray is a small city far to the north. It’s gained some acclaim in recent years as the city that sits in the centrepoint of the dialogue about the oil sands or dirty oil as it’s called by some.

And now it sits empty. 60,000 people evacuated. 60,000 people unsure of their tomorrow in a town they love, the community they build.

On social media, some have written how ‘it serves them right’. Some have suggested the oilsands are to blame. That the energy sector, the sector that accounts for 10% of Canada’s GDP  is at the source of these flames soaring high into the air and wreaking such havoc on the ground. That because of the significant downturn in the Alberta economy caused by the drop in oil prices, and thus a significant downturn in Canada’s economy, the people of Fort McMurray, and Alberta, are getting their due. The chickens have come home to roost, one tweet said.

There are no chickens roosting in Fort McMurray. They have either been scooped up by frantic owners fleeing the flames, or been left behind because the owners could not get home to their roosts to save them. The chickens are helpless in the face of the fire, as are all the wildlife, the livestock, the family pets who could not be saved and the people who are fleeing for their lives.

Fire does not discriminate. It does not give grace.

It burns.

And like the words of those who feel this is their time to stand on pulpits and chastise and berate those whose lives are being torn apart by nature’s untameable wrath, fire leaves scars.

As one tweeter said in response to a particularly nasty tweet about the people of Fort Mac ‘getting their due’; this is not about politics, environmental diatribe or anything else. This is about humans.

I stand with my neighbours in Fort McMurray today. I stand in solidarity with their need for safety, support, understanding, help.

The fires still rage. They still burn out of control. Today promises no relief. Only worse.

I am angry. Please, go away blue skies. Let the rains come down.





18 thoughts on “Ft. McMurray is burning.”

  1. LG

    I empathize with Fort Mac folks. As they did with us when we had a flood. While prairie fires are rare – hence a good place to put a city, when we put cities in the middle of a forest, we risk forest fires. Fire-fighting and fire-control are terms but not realities – because fire behaves with a mind and influences we cannot control let alone understand.

    I am not angry. I see action, communication, safe evacuation and the lessons our government learned from our floods and from Slave Lake’s fire being put into place … and social media and old-media too, are putting all that reality in our faces. So we can lend a hand, an ear or a shoulder to our fellow Albertans. Winds will die, rain will come and a community will return to its new-normal. And a patch of forest will start to re-grow after the fire.

    Whatever the harsh lessons, we’ll still build towns and cities in and near forests. Think Banff, think Jasper, think Vancouver … etc.

    The nature of fire and wind is as old as the planet – a destructive form of cleaning up to make way for robust growth. And, I suspect, the combination of drive and thrive will soon regenerate in Fort Mac. As it did here apres-flood, as it did in Slave Lake apres-fire.

    Natural forces, methinks, remind us often that we are guests in their midst rather than them being intruders in ours.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes Mark, they will rebuild. They will stand strong again. In this moment, they are fleeing. And that is tragic.

      Love this — Natural forces, methinks, remind us often that we are guests in their midst rather than them being intruders in ours. Thank you.


      1. so far I’ve learned two interesting things
        – in the evacuation and fire activities … no serious injuries, not deaths
        – they evacuated the hospital patients to one of the ‘camp’ site … two babies born last night ….

        I think that is vewwwy vewwwy cool

        I just got off the phone with an insurance company claims manager … he and his team have been in meetings since 2AM today … so they are ‘on it’, and benefiting from lessons learned at Slave Lake and with our floods

        AND, when I picked up groceries at Sobeys earlier, they happily took my $50 donation (the province is matching all donations) to the Red Cross. And major corporations are making large donations … so … if everybody gave …


        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know! I heard about the babies earlier today too and was so excited! WOW!

        And I too gave my $50 to the Red Cross. I also did a text message thingie that automatically donated $5. So many ways to support people in crisis. And yes, if we all give….

        I love that the oil companies are sending workers home so that evacuees can find shelter in the camps.

        I love that fuel trucks are driving north to help stranded motorists on the highway.

        I love that as far away as the Maritimes, firefighters are driving west to help out.

        and I love that there are so many stories of people helping people.

        Thanks Mark — we are an amazing province and while our ‘amazing’ exists at all times, it is in times like these that I feel so blessed to live here amongst so many everyday heroes.


    1. Thank you Diana. At the opening Plenary of the 7 cities Conference on housing first and homelessness tomorrow, We are standing for a minute of silence in support of our colleagues, friends and neighbours in the north. Thank you for standing with us my friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Patty — thank you for checking in — 2200 homes and buildings — about 15% of the city. All 88,000 residents continue to be evacuated — the fire has moved north east and continues to burn but no longer endangering the city. It is a horrific event. Evacuees are located across the province, including some here in Calgary. They believe it will be a couple of more weeks before it is safe to return.


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